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Published: June 27th 2019
“It’s $30 for a pack of smokes! How are we supposed to live with prices like that?” Lady at the store in Clyde River.
The thirty dollar pack of cigarettes scenario was my introduction to this northern gem. I really loved the statement... An unexpected drive in a Jeep
It was very strange to drive in a Jeep along a beach on Baffin Island. To the east lay sea-ice to the horizon, to the west - giant snowbanks lingered among the dunes. The beach, however, was clear. Our objective was to find a skull the size of a car and vertebrae the size of fuel drums from the remains of a bowhead whale that was hunted the previous summer. It was quite a sight as we approached the carnage at Cape Christian near the community of Kangiqtugaapik (Clyde River). Our driver was a local (Kangiqtugaapingmiut) who loved his community of about a thousand people. He loved the isolation, the cold, the hunting. He talked and talked about the short summers, the boat trips to the nearby fjords, the flowers that follow the endless sun, how he loves to fish for char when the river breaks free of its ice. Exploring the area
I spent some quality days in the community and bonded with some locals. I would
run in the late afternoon with an entourage of kids following along - I’d walk into the empty land behind town after eating a feast of outrageously priced basics - I was tempted to eat the core and seeds of my lonely $3.85c apple - I resisted. I savoured the taste, it was mamatakpiaqtuq (delicious)
As I marched across the rocky tundra of the seventieth parallel, I was amazed at all the flowers in full bloom, it had been unusually warm for June, with temperatures getting up to 5 or 6 degrees above freezing. It was a carpet of my favourite colours - the purple saxifrage reigned supreme among the yellow poppies and the creamy-white of the avens. I sat on a ridge and looked upon a series of ice-covered lakes that dotted the thawing tundra.
As I walked down the ridge towards town, I was approached by a young boy.
“Who’s your anana?” - “You don’t know her, she's not from here!”
“Where’s your nuka?” - “He’s at home.”
“Are you Inuk or kalluna?” - “Kallunatunga.”
"Why are you Kalluna?" - "I was born that way."
I understood his curiosity
- they were beautiful questions. Phonetics
At the Ilisaqsivik centre, I had to attend some training. Admittedly, much of the course content was a bit dry, as classroom stuff often is, but I am rather fond of VHF radios and their UHF companions, and I am fond of the usage of the phonetic alphabet. As a group, we had to spell our names using the ‘Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta’ system, a system in which I'm very confident at using. I’m also somewhat familiar with the Canadian Arctic languages and the excessive Qs & Ks - I found great humour in listening to the locals spell their names - a delightful chorus of Kilos, Indias and Quebecs followed. There appears to be a disproportionate amount of hard consonants in these parts - vowels are limited to A, I & U.
Siqiniqtuq - Sunny skies.
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